The Emergence of Etosha National Park in Namibia and its Impacts on the Hai//om People

Located in the northwestern part of Namibia — a country in southern Africa with a sophisticated, profound historical past in colonialism — Etosha National Park sits on the Etosha Pan: the traditional land of the Hai//om people.

The German Empire’s annexation of South West Africa, present-day Namibia, in 1884 led to proclaiming Etosha Pan as one of the three-game reserves in 1907: Game Reserve No. 2. However, the outbreak of World War I in 1915 initiated South Africa, a British ally, to push back German forces in South West Africa and establish their troops in Namibia. In 1920, South Africa agreed to administer South West Africa under the mandate system of the League of Nations. Moreover, In 1958, the Administration of South Africa declares Game Reserve No. 2 as the Etosha Game Park, which later, in 1967, becomes Etosha National Park.

Even though Namibia gained independence in 1990, Etosha National Park continues to remain as one of the prestigious national parks in conserving wildlife and one of the highest tourist attractions. Despite various land reforms and policies enacted and amended after independence to ensure equal access to land and natural resources, indigenous groups — the Hai//om people who were severely affected by colonial governance — continue to remain as landless squatters today.

Our case study begins with defining Bushmen, a term that often referred to the Hai//om people in official documents of colonial administration. Moreover, the case study explains the complex history of Namibia and the establishment of Etosha National Park by dividing the section into three major governance periods between 1884 to 1990. Moreover, it examines the racially demarcated boundaries and policies enacted during the colonial governance.

Later, the case study discusses the failure of Namibia's land reforms in addressing unequal land distribution and ownership and existing power dynamics between various stakeholders within the Etosha National Park after independence in 1990 to 2004.

The San people are presumed to be the earliest inhabitants in Namibia, dating their origin back to 1,500 to 2,000 years ago in Southern Namibia [1]. Known to be hunter-gatherers who took advantage of existing plants, animals, and water, the San people shared their resources with their neighbors[1]. Primarily, their neighbors were Bantu-speaking people — the Owambo and Herero — living in Northern Namibia[2]. Today, 30,000 to 36,000 San people make up less than two percent of the total population in Namibia, whereas the Owambo people make half of the Namibian population. Some of the notable San groups are the Hai//om people, Naro, and Khwe, who used to be collectively referred to as Bushmen in the past[1]. The term, Bushmen was created by White Europeans during the late nineteenth-century to collectivize Southern African indigenous groups in the government administration[2]. The German Empire's colonial administration and South African's mandate administration differentiated Bushmen into three different categories, reflecting their locality and financial status[2].

Three Different Categories of Bushmen
Wild Bushmen Tame or Domesticated Bushmen Semi-wild Bushmen
referred to those who lived

outside of the Police Zone[2].

referred to those who permanently lived

and worked in settler farms[2].

referred to those who came from outside of the Police Zone

and temporally worked in settler farms[2].

These terms were arbitrarily used in documents because both, German and South African administrations used the terms interchangeably. For instance, Bushmen who stole farm crops were automatically categorized as wild Bushmen. [2]

However, it is important to consider that indigenous people living in Southern Africa did not or do not see themselves as a collective group because they spoke distinct languages and inhabited in different regions[2]. Today, the term San group is used in formal discourse and has replaced the word Bushmen[2].

The Hai//om people are one of the San groups who used to or continue to reside within or around Etosha National Park, long before colonization in 1884[3]. They were nomadic, hunter-gatherers — seasonally migrating within their territories — living in temporary villages near the waterholes of Etosha Pan[3]. Moreover, each of these temporary villages had woman or man leaders[3].

Today, there are more than 40 water holes in Etosha National Park —most of which are man-made boreholes — and each waterhole is prominent sites for tourists to watch wildlife[4]. The Okondeka Waterhole is known for lion sightings, and the Okaukuejo waterhole is notable for attracting black rhino and elephants[4].

Long before the establishment of a national park, the Hai//om people relied on water sources and settled near waterholes[5]. Not only did waterholes provide water sources for the Hai//om people, but they also attracted animals —aiding hunters to hunt game[5].

Although there is a lack of written history that demonstrates Hai//om people's connection to the land, their spiritual relationships with Etosha Pan are illustrated through the naming of certain waterholes, beliefs, and respect[3]. For instance, they believe in spiritual agencies called //gamabs, who protected their land. Also, they believed in the existence of shamen, who were peacemakers between men and animals[3]. Furthermore, the Hai//om respect lions because they saw them as sources of divine power[3].

Moreover, animals held significant value for the Hai//om people for building tools and weapons, such as arrows, blankets, water bags, and trumpets[5]. For instance, the belly skin of a giraffe was utilized to fabricate water bags, and the abdominal skin of a zebra allowed Hai//om hunters to create arrows[5]. Plants in Etosha Pan also carried medicinal, nutritional, and essential values[5]. For example, Hai//om hunters used the root of ! Khores (Adenium boehmianum), a pink, toxic flower, to make poisonous arrows[5].

Today, the Hai//om people are one of the most discriminated indigenous communities in politics, land tenure, employment, and access to natural resources. The Hai//om people were extremely adversely affected by colonial governments' decision on the utilization of Etosha Pan and still are considered as landless, squatters in Namibia[1]. For those, who remain within Etosha National Park today live in the community of Okaukuejo, inhabited by former or current park workers[1].

Flag of German Empire

The German South West Africa Protectorate (1884-1915)

The history and treaty

South West Africa, now known as Namibia, becomes a protectorate of the German Empire in 1884[2]. In 1898, a protection treaty was signed between the colonial government and one of the Hai//om leaders — Aribib[2]. For the German Empire, the treaty was designed to assimilate the Hai//om people into its colonial system[2]. On the other hand, for the Hai//om it was about giving the colony rights to the area stretching from Outjo to Grootfontein, in exchange, they would receive protection and security from the protector[2]. Integrating indigenous groups into the colonial system was easy for the German because the Hai//om people lacked a social system, since they lived in scattered areas as well as reliant on hunting and gathering[2].

Veterinary Cordon Fence / The Police Zone / Red-Line

In 1897, a veterinary cordon fence was erected to prevent the spread of rinderpest, a fatal disease that affects cattle, buffalo, and other cloven-hoofed animals, which first appeared in eastern Africa and rapidly expanded to southern Africa[6].

While the veterinary cordon fence was constructed, 16 manned control posts were established to quarantine and restrict livestock coming in and out of the region: notable posts located in Namutoni and Okaukuejo[6].

It is important to note that the German administration knew that local people, such as the Hai//om people, relied on water and were mostly nomadic[6]. Thus, they needed help from local leaders to determine the potential location of the control posts[6]. Moreover, the guards of these control posts were instructed not to kill indigenous groups and animals who are found outside of the cordon line[6].

Furthermore, for the local people, the cordon line created job opportunities, such as being or assisting control post guards[6].

Around the 1900s, the term veterinary cordon fence changed to Police Zone[6]. The Police Zone boundary was created in Berlin, and crossing and living outside of the boundary were permitted[6]. The term control posts changed to police stations in which it functioned as border control, managing migrants[6].This boundary was created to assist the management in colonial settlement for the German government[6]. In fact, indigenous groups were allowed to migrate outside or inside of the Police Zone freely, and restrictions did not exist in utilizing natural resources[6]. However, it is essential to note that German settlers often favored settling near waterholes in which indigenous people relied on too[6]. By 1910, white settler farmers began to settle inside and around the waterholes of Etosha Pan[3]. Since the German Empire Administration regarded Hai//om people as nomads, Hai//om people did not have a reserve for themselves[3]. In addition, white settler farmers needed laborers, and Hai//om people were used as cheap laborers[3].

Game Reserve No. 2

In 1907, the German Empire proclaimed to establish three Game Reserves under the Ordinance 88 of 1907[2]. Etosha Pan becomes one of the three Game Reserves — Game Reserve No. 2[2]. The declaration of Game Reserves generated laws within the territory, and restrictions were applied to white settlers and Bantu-speakers[2]. For instance, hunting specific animals, such as zebra, kudu cows, eland, buffalo, and giraffe was prohibited and the government imposed vehicles entering the Reserves to acquire written permission[2]. However, Hai//om people who lived within the Reserves were allowed to reside within Game Reserve No.2 because they were not perceived as threats in affecting the number of game[2].

Though it may seem that the colonial government desired to protect wildlife and keep out commercial hunters, the creation of Game Reserves was more about material benefit and continuing the European tradition in hunting[2]. In Germany, hunting was a regarded as a noble sport, and strict restrictions existed on who was permitted to hunt and how the game was to be killed[2]. However, in colonies, hunting restrictions, such as the particular game that can or cannot be hunted and allowable weapons were less rigorous than in Germany. Moreover, games provided economic benefit for trade as well as meat[2].

South Africa Mandate Period (1915-1990)

Flag of South Africa

In 1915, the outbreak of World War I led a British ally — South Africa in power of South West Africa, present-day Namibia[2].

Ordinance No. 1 of 1916

In 1916, the German Empire's Proclamation of Game Reserves of 1907 was repealed by Ordinance No.1, which changed the rules within the Game Reserves[2]. For instance, hunting licenses were required, illegal activities within Game Reserves were fined, and specific game animals could be hunted only for scientific purposes — elephant, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, and zebra[2].

Veterinary Cordon Fence / The Police Zone / Red-Line

Previously known as the veterinary cordon fence, Police Zone and Red-Line were two terms that were interchangeably used[6]. The Red-Line adjusted borders of Game Reserve No. 2, and became a border that would be illegal to cross without a permit[2]. Furthermore, it created a racial, socio-economic division for the people living in the Police Zone — the southern region for European settlement and the northern region for the settlement of indigenous groups in Africa, such as the Bantu-speaking people[6].

Former German police stations in which migrants were controlled and now manned with South African military sergeants who controlled tourism, handled police duties, and wrote regular reports on their area about the number of game, Bushmen, and visitors[2].

In 1958, Game Reserve No. 2 becomes Etosha Game Park[2]

In 1967, Etosha Game Park becomes Etosha National Park [2]

Policies regarding restriction

Within the Police Zones, white European and African Bantu-speaking settler farmers began to complain about Bushmen stealing their livestock and crops as well as labor shortage on their farmland[3].

Vagrancy Proclamation of 1927

This Vagrancy Proclamation of 1927 stated that African Bantu-speaking settler farmers residing within the Police Zone who did not own ten cattle or 50 small livestock, were automatically required to enter wage work[6].

Arms and Ammunition Proclamation of 1928

Under the Proclamation, Bushmen arrows and bows are considered as firearms[2].

Full-time game warden of Game Reserve No. 2 appointed in 1947

In 1947, the first full-time game warden imposed limitations in livestock ownership on Bushmen who lived within the Game Reserves[2]. They were not allowed to keep more than ten large livestock and fifty small livestock per person[2]. Moreover, Bushmen began to have restrictions on the species they were allowed to hunt[3].

Hai//om people requested to leave Game Reserve No. 2 in 1954

In 1954, the Chief Native Commissioner of Ovamboland ordered all Hai//om, except those employed in the Game Reserve, to leave Etosha Pan Game Reserves[3]. They were given two options:

  1. Move to an area called Ovamboland, a region located above Etosha Pan with Bantu-speakers[3].
  2. Work in White settler farms near Game Reserves[3].

Policies regarding to access to resources

Nature Conservation Ordinance No. 4 of 1975

Enacted by the South African Administration in 1975, this Ordinance repealed all of the protected area and wildlife management legislation dating far back as 1927, which were enacted by the South African Administration[7]. It secures and amends laws related to nature conservation, including state protected areas, such as game parks and nature reserves and wildlife management[7]. Moreover, the administration will grant permission to enter state protected areas includes health, recreation, travel, and study (e.g. scientific research)[7]. By this Ordinance, indigenous people’s traditional use of plants, animals, and vegetation are considered illegal in protected areas[7]. It is still in force today ever since Namibia’s independence in 1990[7]. Furthermore, Etosha National Park is defined as a game park under this Ordinance[7].

Independence (1990)

Flag of Namibia

National Land Conference (1991)

After gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, the Namibian government recognized profound issues in unequal land distribution and ownership since 1884[8]. Before 1990, during the South African administration, 60 percent of the land was held by white Europeans who formed only 10 percent of the Namibian population[9]. Moreover, 5000 commercial farmers who were European or European descent possessed an average livestock farm size of 20,000 acres[9]. On the other hand, 140,000 black commercial farmers owned over-crowded agricultural lands[9]. A profound demand in land reform was necessary for Namibia after independence [8]. Thus, the Namibian government held its first National Land Conference in 1991, which primarily aimed to reach a consensus in creating a document of recommendations for Namibia's land reform[8]. During the conference, the administration strongly believed that redistributing land based on ancestry would be complex and problematic to resolve land tenure[8]. Furthermore, they perceived it as an undemocratic manner for their current republican constitution[8]. However, the conference emphasized an agreement to facilitate the redistribution of land for groups who were historically deeply affected by the colonial and South African administrations — notably the San group[8].

Land Reform in Namibia

The Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act (ALRA) in 1995

Ratified by the new Namibian National Assembly, the Act aimed to solve the injustice of colonial land allocations and assure equity in land access based on a principle called willing buyer-willing seller[3]. To redistribute agricultural lands to Namibian citizens who are economically, socially, and educationally deprived Namibian citizens, the ALRA permits the government to purchase farms from willing sellers — the freehold farmers[3]. Though the Ministry of Lands Resettlement and Rehabilitation (MLRR) placed indigenous groups like the Hai//om people in top priority for land reforms and aid for resettlement, they continued to be landless squatters in roadsides[3]. They lived in squatter settlements, demonstrating the failed attempt to address the issue of resettlement and accommodate generational farm workers[3]. Furthermore, the available freehold farms that were sold to the government were often high priced and poor quality, slowing the process in resettling deprived groups[8]. According to the Namibian Statistics Agency's land statistics data of 2018, there are approximately 12,380 communal farms in Namibia, and 70 percent are still owned by white European or European descent[8]. From independence to 2018, the government had purchased 496 farms for resettlement, and a total of 5,000 Namibians benefitted from ALRA. However, the beneficiaries of ALRA were those who historically resided in northern Namibia, a region that was considered to be not affected by colonialism[8].

Traditional Authorities (TAs) in 1995 and the Traditional Authorities Act (TAA) in 2000

Every ethnic, indigenous people in Namibia have TAs, a ruling body of indigenous chiefs or elders and a number of traditional councilors, responsible for working with the government in providing information and advice and ensure peace in communities[10] Moreover, They have the exclusive authority on customary land to allocate land in communal areas[10]. In 2000, the Traditional Authorities Act (TAA) was enacted in which TAs were recognized at the national level[10]. However, the TAA was solely a guide that clarified and defined the responsibilities and duties of TAs in governance on customary land[10]. It is important to note that this Act did not decentralize State governance power to TAs because communal lands in Namibia belong to the State[10].

The Communal Land Reform Act (CLRA) in 2002 and the Communal Land Board (CLB)

CLRA reduced and limited the powers of TAs, who had exclusive authority to allocate land, aiming to decentralize land administration management[11]. Moreover, it attempted to remove the uncertainties that TAs have with customary land ownership by saying that all communal lands belonged to the State[11]. However, CLRA did not resolve communal land ownership. Instead, it generated disputes between the State and TAs, and the TAs in return responded that they have the inherent right to the ownership of their traditional land[11]. Before the enactment of CLRA, TAs had the authority to allocate land and reject permission for settlement in communal lands[11]. However, there were applicants who bribed to TAs with money to successfully obtain land[11]. Thus, CLRA tried to ensure equal land allocation by creating Communal Land Board[11]. The Communal Land Board of CLRA was comprised of a minimum of five State representatives who verify the decision made by TAs and ensure that the allocated land is fair for every individual[11]. Moreover, the Board has the right to cancel the decisions made by TAs[11]. However, tensions arose between TAs and the Board because the TAs realized that they are losing power in land management because the allocation and administration in land are now brought up to the regional level, not at the village level[11]. Also, clashes existed between TAs and CLRA because in some traditional customary law some ethnic groups might disagree with women having the right to own land[11].

Access to Natural Resources

Nature Conservation Amendment Act No. 5 of 1996

It is important to note that this Act did not repeal the Nature Conservation Ordinance No. 4 of 1975, but amended[7]. The Nature Conservation Amendment Act issued certain rights to communal area residents to register their communal land as conservancies in the use of wildlife, including hunting, capturing, or selling the game (e.g. oryx or kudu) under quotas formed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism[7]. Moreover, the Act issued certain rights to use quotas of protected game such as elephants in trophy hunting[7].

Land Tenure in Namibia

Three Land Tenure
Free hold / private land Protected land Communal land
Makes up 44% of Namibia's land[12] Makes up 15% of Namibia's land[12] Makes up 41% of Namibia's land[12]
e.g.) livestock and agricultural farms,

Free hold conservancy[12]

e.g.) National Parks and Game Reserves[12] e.g.) Communal Conservancies and Resettlement Farms[12]

1. Free-hold / Privately-held Land

Approximately 44% of Namibian land is freehold, primarily comprised of commercial farmers who are white European or European descent[12]. These lands can either be livestock or agricultural farms[13].

Power structure for private livestock farmers[13]

  1. State
  2. Farmer (reports to above)

Power structure for hunting and tourism enterprises

  1. State
  2. landowner
  3. manager


  1. State
  2. landowner


  1. State
  2. board of directors
  3. manager

2. Protected Land

Approximately 15% of Namibian land is protected areas, and primarily utilized to conserve nature and wildlife, such as national parks or game reserves[12]. However, it is important to note that within or beside state-protected areas, communal lands and freehold lands coexist. Etosha National Park is one of the prominent state-protected areas that have continuing conflicts with other land tenures.

Power structure[13]

  1. State
  2. Directorate of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) (report to above)
  3. Chief warden (report to above)
  4. Warden (report to above)
  5. Ranger (report to above)

3. Communal Land

Approximately half of the Namibian population live in communal areas[1]. The CLRA of 2002 clearly states that communal lands are in the Namibian State's ownership[1]. However, the Act states that Traditional Authorities (TAs) have the right to administer and allocate communal land for agricultural, livestock, or residential occupancy by cooperating with the Communal Land Board who ensures that lands have been allocated equally[1].

Communal Conservancies

Communal conservancies have the right to manage and use wildlife resources within their customary land under the Nature Conservation Amendment Act No. 5 of 1996 with assistance from NGOs, such as the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organizations (NACSO) and government agencies, the Ministry of Tourism and Land[1].

To register a communal land as a communal conservancy:[12]

1. need to elect community members and representatives

2. need a specified, defined membership

3. need an agreed boundary for their conservancy

4. need a constitution that includes its resource management strategy plan for equal distribution of benefits.

Power structure[13]

  • Communal conservancies manage and utilize resources by an organized group of people in the community (A joint management)
  1. State land
  2. Traditional Authority and the Land Board (report to above)
  3. Local traditional leaders (report to above)
  4. Community representatives (report to above)
  5. Individuals (report to above)

Resettlement Farms

Resettlement farmers are indigenous groups living in communal land, which is owned by the State[1]. The land reform, the ALRA of 1995, recognized that the government will assist indigenous groups, who were severely affected by colonialism, economically deprived, and do not own agricultural or livestock farmland[1]. The Act grants Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to buy land from freehold farmers on a willing-buyer willing-seller basis[1].

Power structure[13]

  1. State land
  2. Traditional Authority and the Land Board (report to above)
  3. Local traditional leaders (report to above)
  4. Farmers/individuals (report to above)
Livestock farms on communal land

They manage and utilize the resources with the approval of the Land Board.[14] Individuals from the community are decision-makers, with the approval by the Land Board.[14]

Power structure:[13]
  1. State
  2. Communal Land Board and TA (reports to above)
  3. Farmer (reports to above)

Major Affected Stakeholders

Two notable Hai//om resettlement farms near Etosha National Park: Mooiplaas (Farm no. 462) and Werda (Farm no. 469)

In 1997, Hai//om Chief Aib led a protest at the gates of Etosha National Park, claiming for their ancestral land Etosha Pan back[2]. The protest initiated the Namibian government to offer resettlement farms to the Hai//om people[15]. However, the Hai//om were uncertain about their rights and security in governance and land tenure[15]. Thus, they have elected a Traditional Authority, but many disputes occurred on the election and that it was a rigged election[15].

Mooiplaas is one of the resettlement farms that is 6,500 acres and has 162 Hai//om people registered[15]. In addition, two out of eight households in this farm have livestock. Werda is 6,414 acres, which comprise 24 Hai//om people in two large households and 17 other households[15]. Moreover, two out of nine-teen households own livestock[15].

Minor Affected Stakeholders

Two notable communal conservancies near Etosha National Park
1. ≠Khoadi-//hôas Conservancy

An area that covers 3,364 km2 and registered as a conservancy in 1998, the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy is located in the Kunene region, south-west of Etosha National Park[16]. Damara and Nama, non-San and non-Bantu indigenous people of southern African, reside in these conservancies[16]. In 2008, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) granted a tourism concession to the conservancy, which generated job opportunities and development within the region[16]. A lodge for tourists named the Grootberg Lodge exists that is owned by the community but managed by a partnered private tourist enterprise named Journeys Namibia[16]. Today, the conservancy benefits from trophy hunting, selling game meat, as well as earns most of its income from joint venture tourism, Journeys Namibia[16]. However, for those who are not employed by tourism and hunting enterprises, their livelihoods continue to depend on agriculture and livestock farming[16]. They are continually affected by climate change, an environment increasingly becoming arid with less rain[16]. Moreover, wildlife conflicts, such as elephants destroying crops and water infrastructures, are prevalent and a growing challenge for the conservancy[16].

2. Ehi-Rovipuka Conservancy

An area that covers 1,980 km2 and registered as a conservancy in 2001, the Ehi-Rovipuka Conservancy is located in the Kunene region, south-west of Etosha National Park[17]. It is a customary land of the Herero, Bantu-speakers, and they reside in these conservancies[17]. In 2007, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) granted trophy hunting concession to the conservancy, which created a variety of job opportunities and income[17]. The game guards of the conservancy monitor and patrol with MET officials in vehicles[17]. Moreover, a hunting camp managed by community employers and located within the conservancy[17]. The MET sets quotas on hunting wildlife and allows game meat to be sold or used for personal use[17].

Major Interested Stakeholders

Traditional Authorities (TAs)

Traditional Authorities (TAs) are elected within their indigenous groups to represent their people at the national level and allocate customary land, communal areas[2]. They are categorized as interested stakeholders because their livelihoods do not depend on practicing agriculture or livestock. Moreover, they receive their monthly income from the government of Namibia[1]. There have been conflicts between Hai//om people and their TAs because TAs often favored particular applicants when allocating communal land. For instance, there were applicants who bribed with money [18].

Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organizations (NACSO)

NACSO is an NGO that is responsible in working with communal conservancies[17]. They are categorized as major interested stakeholders because they ensure the wellness, assist, and collaborate with communal conservancies[17].

Tourism and Hunting Enterprises

Tourism and hunting companies within Etosha National Park. They also often partner with communal conservancies and benefit the local communities, generating income and providing employment[17]. Moreover, they can help improve infrastructure within a communal land[17].

Minor Interested Stakeholders

Tourists visiting Etosha National Park and using the lodges

Tourists who visit Etosha National Park, provide income to the workers of Etosha National Park. However, it is important to note that they are considered as interested stakeholders because even if Etosha National Park were not available to them, they have the option to visit other national parks in Namibia. Moreover, they are not concerned about the wellness

Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET)

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is the principal government agency that is primarily responsible for purchasing freehold land for the resettlement of deprived indigenous people[1]. Among these years, their slow resettlement process indicates that their interest in successfully ensuring resettlement is low[1].

Wildlife in Etosha National Park

Within Etosha National Park (ENP), one of the significant forms of income for local communities is from tourism. Community-Based Tourism (CBT) provides economic benefits to local communities who live within communal land, communal conservancies, or freehold land in Etosha National Park. It ensures local communities to hold control over tourism activities and hunting quotas[12]. Moreover, Tourism benefits local communities by creating financial or non-financial incomes, employment, tax revenues, and reduce poverty[12]. In the Etosha National Park, tourism not only brings development opportunities but also supports the sustainable form of conservation of wildlife and nature[12] .

The hunting industry is also well developed in Etosha National Park, bringing benefits to the local communities in terms of economic and spiritual values[19]. Some of the benefits of conserving wildlife are that they attract tourists, provide communities with nonfinancial products, such as meat, and sometimes hold spiritual values[19].

Furthermore, the introduction of Community-Based Conservation in communal farms gave local people control in managing and monitoring biodiversity in ENP[19]. However, the increase in the wildlife population creates conflict, a rising concern of wildlife threatening the local livelihood by destroying crops and attacking people[19].

One barrier for the Hai//om people in Etosha National Park to participate in the Community-Based Tourism and Community-Based Conservation is the land tenure issue. Although the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act (ALRA) was enacted in 1995, which granted the government, specifically the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement authority to purchase commercial land from freehold farmers and redistribute to economically and socially deprived Namibian citizens (including the Hai//om people), land resettlement was not successful for several reasons[3].

First, the willing buyer-willing seller method failed because there is a shortage of land which only fewer freehold farmers are willing to sell their land since their livelihood depends on the land[8].

Second, the land that the government purchases automatically becomes a State land, and those indigenous groups or Namibian citizens who acquire resettlement farms have a 99-year lease[8]. Thus, it is uncertain for the resettled group on what will happen after the term expires[8].

Third, in the past years, the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement faced difficulties in receiving funding, and they stated that there is a shortage of land of good quality[8].

Fourth, purchased lands were often small for resettled groups to begin agriculture and benefit economically[8]. Moreover, often, resettlement farms had poor infrastructure and access to water[8]. Thus, an emphasis on assistance from NGOs and government agencies are needed[8]. This proves the failure of the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act.

Moreover, as reported lately, Namibians who benefitted from ALRA are not from the Hai//om community, which indicates that there is a considerable amount of Hai//om people in or around the ENP suffering from the poor living conditions and being landless squatters[8].

Power/ Interest Analysis for Stakeholders
High Interest, Low Power High Interest, High Power
- Resettlement Farmers

- Hai//om People (without land)

- Tourism/ Hunting Enterprise
Low Interest, Low Power Low Interest, High Power
- Communal Conservancies

- Livestock Farmers (communal)

- Ministry of Environment and Tourism

- Communal Land Board

- Etosha National Park (state land)

- Livestock Farmers (freehold)

- Tourists

In the assessment section, stakeholders are categorized based on their relative interest and power in Etosha National Park.

Resettlement Farmers and the Hai//om People are categorized as having high interest and low power in the ENP. As resettlement farms are communal land distributed to economically and socially deprived Namibians, the livelihood for these people heavily depends on the availability of grazable and agricultural land [20]. Since the ultimate owner of resettlement farms is the State, resettlement farmers have less authority in the decision-making process. For the Hai//om people, poverty has severely impacted their living conditions, and their income is unstable.

According to the stakeholder analysis, tourism/ hunting enterprise is the only stakeholder in the high interest and high power category. Tourism and hunting facilities are situated in private land and hold legal hunting concessions[20]. In Etosha National Park, hunting and tourism industry provides significant incomes for local communities, and benefits acquired from both acitivites rapidly develop[21]. Moreover, both tourism and hunting are dependent on natural resources.[21] In this case, tourism and hunting are high in interest (in terms of livelihood) and high power since they also participate in the decision-making process.

Communal conservancies and communal livestock farms with customary rights are categorized as low interest and low power.The State owns the landscape of communal conservancies and communal farms, so the government is the decision-maker. However, communal conservancies are allowed to have representatives from their communities to participate in the decision-making process. Moreover, they can benefit from tourism concessions and hunting concessions, which are granted by MET[20].

The low interest and high power section is comprised of several government agencies. For example, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Communal land Board are all decision-makers that have the authority to affect the planning and monitoring process in the conservancies via legislation and regulation[20]. As the State employs them and provides income, officials from these government agencies are not considered as affected stakeholders. Moreover, livestock farmers on private land tenure are categorized as low interest and high power because they can manage and utilize the resources from the land in which they are entitled[20]. Their livelihood depends on the land but with less pressure than communal livestock farmers who reside on State land. Furthermore, tourists are low in interest since they are not affected by government decisions, and they are also not involved in the decision-making processes.

Overall, it is essential to ensure that more Hai//om people can live in the communal conservancies with resettlement farms for livelihood. In the case study of the Community Forestry of Zanzibar, the top-down system by the government regarding the management and conservation of their Protected Areas conflict with the local communities’ interest. By restricting access to the land and resources that are fundamental to the local communities, the concerns of poverty and poaching increased.[22] Despite the original top-down system in Zanzibar, in recent years, many NGOs, along with the governments, insisted on developing a community-based conservation approach, which is beneficial for both the government and local communities.[22] As the state owns the resettlement farms, hopefully, the Hai//om community can be involved in the decision-making process with representatives from their community. Having authority in the decision-making process is crucial in terms of respecting the Hai//om history and acknowledging their traditional practices for livelihood in the Etosha National Park. Furthermore, the government should assist the local communities (including the Hai//om people) to establish Community-Based Tourism and Community-Based Conservation in order to create more economic benefits and to satisfy the demand for a sustainable nature with more wildlife populations.

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  2. Dieckmann, Ute (2001). "The vast white place: A history of the Etosha National Park in Namibia and the Hai//om". Nomadic Peoples. 5. doi:10.3167/082279401782310826.
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  4. 4.04.1 Waterholes in Etosha. (2019). Retrieved November 29, 2019, from Etosha National Park website:
  5. Waterholes & places of the Hai||om. (2019). Retrieved November 29, 2019, from Xoms |Omis Project website:
  6. Miescher, G. (2012). Namibia’s red line: the history of a veterinary and settlement border. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  7. Hoole, A. (2014). Community-based conservation and protected areas: Common perspectives for promoting biodiversity and social justice in southern Africa. In R. Wynberg & M. Sowman (Eds.), Governance for justice and environmental sustainability (1st ed., pp. 131-152). London: Routledge.
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  12. 12.0012.0112.0212.0312.0412.0512.0612.0712.0812.0912.1012.11 Kavita, E., & Saarinen, J. (2016). Tourism and rural community development in Namibia: Policy issues review. Fennia, 194(1), 79–88. 10.11143/46331
  13. Mannetti, L. M., Göttert, T., Zeller, U., & Esler, K. J. (2017). Expanding the protected area network in Namibia: An institutional analysis. Ecosystem Services, 28, 207–218.
  14. 14.014.1 Mannetti, L. (2017). Evaluating land use conflicts at the borders of Etosha National Park, Namibia : A social-ecological approach (Thesis). Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University. Retrieved from
  15. Hitchcock, R. K. (2015). Authenticity, identity, and humanity: The Hai‖om San and the state of Namibia. Anthropological Forum, 25(3), 262–284.
  16. ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancy. (2019). Retrieved November 30, 2019, from NACSO website:
  17. Ehi-Rovipuka conservancy. (2019). Retrieved November 30, 2019, from NACSO website:
  18. Koot, S., & Hitchcock, R. (2019). In the way: Perpetuating land dispossession of the indigenous Hai//Om and the collective action lawsuit for Etosha National Park and Mangetti West, Namibia. Nomadic Peoples, 23(1), 55–77.
  19. Störmer, N., Weaver, L. C., Stuart-Hill, G., Diggle, R. W., & Naidoo, R. (2019). Investigating the effects of community-based conservation on attitudes towards wildlife in Namibia. Biological Conservation, 233, 193–200.
  20. Mannetti, L. M., Göttert, T., Zeller, U., & Esler, K. J. (2019). Identifying and categorizing stakeholders for protected area expansion around a national park in Namibia. Ecology and Society, 24(2), art5.
  21. 21.021.1 Naidoo, R., Weaver, L. C., Diggle, R. W., Matongo, G., Stuart-Hill, G., & Thouless, C. (2016). Complementary benefits of tourism and hunting to communal conservancies in Namibia. Conservation Biology, 30(3), 628–638.
  22. 22.022.1 Menzies, N. (2007). Jozani Forest, Ngezi Forest, and Misali Island, Zanzibar. In Our Forest, Your Ecosystem, Their Timber: Communities, Conservation, and the State in Community-Based Forest Management (pp. 30-49). Columbia University Press. Retrieved from
Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Jennifer Jung and Grace Zhang. It is shared under a CC-BY 4.0 International License.

Post Image Credit: “Axel Tschentscher”, Young African Elephant 2019-07-23, CC BY-SA 4.0